The Freedom to Create Our Own Family Traditions
Last Christmas, my husband and I decided to forgo giving Christmas presents to our four kids (now ages 6, 4, 3, and 2). I can imagine that such a drastic move is not realistic or even desirable for some, and by no means suggesting it as prescriptive for all families. I have no regrets.
In A Charlie Brown Christmas, the wise sage Charlie Brown bemoans the fact that materialism has upstaged the celebration of Christ’s birth and of generosity during the holiday season. I couldn’t agree more.
Several questions sparked our decision to redefine Christmas traditions for our family.
- Could there be an alternative to the self-centered, materialistic American cultural celebration of Christmas?
- We have the responsibility to shape the values of a generation that will outlive us. How will we steward this power as parents?
Even a year later, I remember the dread I felt as I sent a text message to our extended family, politely asking them not to send Christmas presents. I was careful to avoid questioning their motives. Instead, I explained that we would reserve birthdays as a time to shower our kids with presents. The Christmas season would be our opportunity as a family to emphasize other values. I’m sure we’ll be tweaking the specifics every year, but here are two of those values:
We want to create memories as a family.
In other words, we want to emphasize experiences over things.
My family and I live in New York City, and are fortunate enough to have access to plenty of festive Christmas activities. This year, we plan to visit the famous Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center and the Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal.
We want our kids to serve those less fortunate.
This year’s focus is reaching out to foster kids during what can be a lonely time of the year. As a child growing up in the New York City foster care system, my husband Moses knew this reality first-hand.
To reiterate, my intention is not to be legalistic about all families following our footsteps. I simply want to encourage parents not to mindlessly follow the traditions thrust upon us by our culture. Instead, let’s realize the freedom we have to create our own family traditions and values.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
Guest Post by Marilette Sanchez
Marilette and her husband Moses serve with the high school ministry of Cru in New York City. They live in Queens with their four young children.
Marilette has a passion for finding the connections between popular culture and Christianity and for helping young people do the same. She blogs at MariletteSanchez.com and shares her thoughts on pop culture at Think Christian.